Henry Low ’22 discovered a passion for teaching and mentorship as a student at UC Davis.

A neurobiology, physiology and behavior major, Low was an academic assistant and tutor for a variety of classes, including chemistry, physics and genetics.

“I started to gain insight into how students learn and have different learning styles, especially when everything was online and remote [during the pandemic],” said Low, who won a Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research in 2022. “Sometimes I saw students struggle with those formats and had hard times visualizing more abstract concepts.”

Those experiences sparked an idea for a nonprofit that could help even more students along the way. Low is the founder and CEO of GenomiGo, an organization dedicated to harnessing technology to help students engage with STEM.

Screenshot from Punnett Farms

Punnett Farms features UC Davis-inspired characters. (Courtesy)

One of his projects is Punnett Farms, an educational game that was inspired by his genetics class at UC Davis. Many UC Davis-inspired elements went into the game that aims to teach students some of the more complex concepts of genetics, like Punnett squares, a diagram approach to predict genetics from information about parent organisms.

“Genetics was one of my favorite classes at UC Davis,” Low said. “So when I noticed students would have a hard time approaching questions, that gave me the impetus to see if I could find a way to make that process more intuitive. I leveraged the digital resources to explain it and make it accessible.”

In Punnett Farms, a cow instructor, an idea that came to Low one day while biking past the dairy facility near the Tercero Residence Halls, walks players through the concepts with mini games and animated lessons. Mushroom characters illustrate how traits are passed from generation to generation. Players are transported across a variety of virtual settings, including a creek inspired by the UC Davis Arboretum. UC Davis Chancellor Gary S. May even makes a brief cameo as a character in the game.

The game, which is appropriate for middle school to college players, is already used in some classrooms. Low recently conducted a study on its effectiveness, which was outlined in a recent paper in Sage Journals.

He’s enlisted a few fellow Aggies to work at GenomiGo, and the team is developing other platforms for educational applications, mentorship support, career resources and more. They want to make science education accessible and interactive.

“Hopefully we can integrate mentorship communities into an online platform and grow it from there,” Low said. “We are really about technology and education and then combining them to help support learners from all sorts of backgrounds.”